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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 01 Oct





















Chief's Actions - Inspired by Loyalty

The action (actually, inaction) of the service chiefs with regards to implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations has drawn flak from several quarters. It is being viewed by the critics as insubordination, indiscipline. Fingers are also being raised on the propriety of sending out signals to all ranks informing them of the delay.

The fact of the matter is that the politicians and the bureaucrats have been caught in flagrante delicto in their attempt to rush through the implementation, warts and all. This, despite that it has been pointed out that the final recommendations have glaring discrepancies as regards the armed forces. The inexplicable down gradation of Lt Cols and Lt Gens, and the reduction in pension of the jawans, defy logic and cannot stand scrutiny. Interestingly, these discrepancies were not part of the original pay commission report, but were introduced by the Committee of Secretaries during review.

Attempts to browbeat the services into accepting the award along with discrepancies, with the unconvincing assurance of looking into the issues post implementation, did not work. The principled stance of the chiefs, uncharacteristic of the incumbents in recent years, took them by surprise. The chiefs probably realized that once implemented, the urgency in rectifying the discrepancies would no longer exist, and the issue would get mired in typical bureaucratic delaying tactics. It is notable that the anomalies of the fourth and fifth pay commissions have still not been removed. The lowered status and pensions of the armed forces would have similarly become fait accompli.

Ethos of the armed forces is centred around loyalty – a concept difficult to understand for outsiders in today’s self serving opportunistic environment. Loyalty in the forces has many dimensions – loyalty towards the country, towards the services, towards one’s unit or ship, your superiors – and most importantly, towards the men under your command. The ‘Chetwoode Motto’ is deeply ingrained in the psyche of every officer :-

"The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time.

The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.

Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time."

The stance taken by the service chiefs is in pursuit of these ideals. Individually, the chiefs have no personal stake in the removal of the anomalies. They have been well compensated in the pay commission report. On the contrary, in taking a strong stance, they have possibly staked their personal self interests such as post retirement appointments. It is only their strong sense of loyalty to their subordinates that prompted this action.

Unlike all other services affected by the pay commission, the armed forces have no unions, no associations. The jawans and officers have absolutely no mechanism of expressing their dissatisfaction with the pay commission discrepancies. They would have no option but to ‘lump it’. Life would carry on, the soldiers and officers would continue to spill their blood securing this nation. But, as the chiefs are well aware, it would be yet another blow to the already beleaguered edifice of the morale of the services, another threat to its basic fabric.

The move to withhold the implementation till a final decision on the anomalies was the only way the import and urgency of the issue could have been highlighted, since all other quarters had only drawn assurances. It also made administrative sense, since it would avoid having to do the salary calculations of more than 15 Lakh people twice in (hopefully) a month or so.

As regards the signal informing their command of the delay in implementation, it was perfectly in order to keep all ranks of the services informed about an issue that every one of them is obviously monitoring closely and is affected by. This is as per the best practices of command, to avoid rumour mongering and ensuring the correct picture is known to all.

The chiefs were sanguine that loyalty to the nation lay in being loyal to their services and their subordinates, and acted accordingly, even at potentially grave personal costs. It is probably for the first time, after the late Field Marshal Manekshaw insisted on delaying the commencement of operations in 1971 till the army was fully ready, that such a principled and selfless stance has been taken by any service chief. They have lived up to the line in the NDA Prayer – “Help me to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”The nation, media and the government must view their actions in this light, and not now go on a witch hunt, lest they cause irreparable damage to the morale of the armed forces.




Armed forces yet to accept pay hike

9/30/2008 4:23:08 PM
Armed forces await PM's return to discuss pay hike issue

According to the 6th pay commission, the armed forces are yet to accept the pay hike.Armed forces yet to accept pay hike. Sources have revealed that the Armed forces still have reservations about key issues and are awaiting PM Manmohan Singh's return from his foreign trip so they can take up the issue with him.

Even as the Armed Forces are under pressure to accept the revised pay scales and arrears from tommorow, sources say that the official notication from the service chiefs accepting the new scales has not been issued as yet.

Sources have revealed that the Armed forces have largely accepted the pay scales for the non-officer cadre but are yet to do so for the officer cardre. The principal objection lies in the pay scale of a Lieutenant Colonel who is considered the backbone of the fighting force. While the equivalent rank in civil services have been bumped up a grade the same hasn't been done for the army.

According to sources, the Army has sighted larger interests of the services to justify the delay in implementing revised salaries.

The Army continues to maintain that pay related issues remain unresolved even though the process for issuing the notification on the new scales has begun. However that process is unlikely to actually come into effect before the Prime Minister returns on Wednesday (October 1, 2008).

Meanwhile workers of the Defence Shipyard are also meeting defence minister AK Antony to press for their demands in the revised pay scale.

Forces up the ante

Forces continue to be at loggerheads with the government over the new pay scales issued by the 6th pay commission. The army chief Deepak Kapoor had earlier said that forces do not have anything against the government.

The service chiefs continue to hold firm on the issue of accepting new pay scales. Service chiefs met in Delhi today to meet to discuss further steps on addressing the issue. They will meet defence minister AK Antony and PM Manmohan Singh tomorrow to discuss the issue of remunerations and the 6th pay commissions revised pay scales.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and armed forces chiefs had reached a compromise on the issue .

Meanwhile the government has said that the armed forces are to accept old pay scales and ad hoc arrears.



21 columns of army withdrawn from Bihar

Patna, September 30
Twentyone of the 26 columns of the Army were withdrawn as part of the Bihar government's plan for the withdrawal of the forces involved in relief and rescue operations by October 14 as the overall flood situation in the five worst-hit districts of the state registered a marked improvement.

"Twentyone columns of army personnel have been withdrawn, while the remaining five are still engaged to carry out relief and rescue operations," state disaster management additional secretary Pratyay Amrit said.

Despite continuous discharge of water from the Barah area in Nepal, Kosi continued to maintain a stable trend.

The water level of the Ganga, Burhi Gandak, Gandak, Mahananda and Bagmati rivers was also below the danger mark along their course in Bihar, official sources said.

The state government has planned to withdraw army columns from the affected areas by October 14.

As many as 1519 boats, including 83 motorboats, beside 399 NDRF personnel, continued to assist the relief operations, the additional secretary said, adding that so far 1,51504 quintals of foodgrains and Rs 38.33 crore in cash had been distributed among the identified affected families. — PTI



Pay Protest
Service chiefs deny defiance of govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 30
Even as the difference of opinion has emerged over the form of protest chosen by the armed forces after the sixth pay commission was notified, the defence minister A.K. Antony today met the three service chiefs - Admiral Sureesh Mehta, General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshall F.H Major - where the pay commission was again on the agenda. The three chiefs also met amongst themselves separately.

It is learnt the chiefs have conveyed that all the four core issues raised by the forces are important.

They expressed hope that the ministerial committee, of which Antony is also a member, will sort out the matter at the earliest.

It was also cleared that in no way was the signal of the forces to inform their subordinates any kind of defiance of the executive.

Retired officers have stoutly defended the Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta and the other service chiefs.

A ministerial group was formed on Saturday to look into the demands of the forces. The civilian bureaucracy and also the polity are of the opinion that it was not expected from a disciplined force “to stall the implementation of a decision of the union cabinet.” This was like open defiance of the government.

The armed forces, on the other hand, say that Naval Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta’s act of sending a signal to inform the officers and men about the “latest position” about not accepting the sixth pay commission was totally in line with military manuals on leadership.

“It is clear that the force should be informed so that they do not fall prey to any rumour and hearsay.”

This is the normal practice to inform the force so that there is no misinformation and ranks do not fall prey to propaganda and speculation. It is to let truth be known.

Lt. Gen. V.R. Raghavan (retd.) says, “It is not a challenge to the government or authority. The chiefs are accountable to the Constitution and also their own troops.” Commodore Uday Bhaskar Second believes, “There is no defiance. Admiral Mehta did the right thing. This is not a stand off between the political leadership and the forces.”

Sources within the government said the defence minister A.K. Antony told the three chiefs not to stall a decision taken by the cabinet.

The act of the three chiefs is now being construed as if they were trying to cross their limits and run the entire 1.5 million strong force on their own.

On the other hand, after the sixth pay commission was notified, the forces pointed out serious ‘anomalies’ to the defence minister.

The minister took up the issue with the Prime Minister. It was only on Saturday morning that the PM formed a committee.

Since the matter was under consideration at the level of the PM the pay commission could not be implemented.



India to buy T-90 tanks from Russia


Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: India has decided to procure 347 state-of-the-art T-90 tanks from Russia immediately after manufacturing another 1,000 tanks under the transfer of technology regime. Both sides also decided to extend military technical cooperation by another 10 years starting from 2010.

They, however, failed to reach any accord on the multi-million Gorshkov aircraft carrier price negotiations deal. The deal is stuck in price negotiations as even after the finalisation of the deal in 2004. Russia is demanding an additional $1.2 billion over an above the $1.5 billion.

At the end of three-hour long talks with visiting Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on Monday, Indian Defene Minister AK Antony said India would examine Russian proposals.

"Now the discussions are in an advanced stage and I hope we will be able to send the proposals to the cabinet for a final decision," he added.

"The Russians have pointed out that the scope of repair and refit of the aircraft carrier has increased and as a result, costs have escalated. Discussions have been going on in the last few months now," he said. With the delay in the refit programme, the 44,570-tonne Kiev Class Gorshkov -- rechristened as INS Vikramaditya -- is expected to join the Indian Navy service only by 2012. India and Russia also decided to form a body headed by the defence secretaries of the two countries to coordinate operation of several working groups for military cooperation.

"We have taken an in principle decision to extend the tenure of the Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) for military and technical cooperation by another 10 years to 2020 from 2010, when the current Commission's 10-year term ends," Mr Antony said.

"The apex body headed by the two defence secretaries will meet every six months to review the joint working groups' functioning and to sort out all issues concerning defence relations," he said.

The two defence ministers said Indo-Russian military relations have now evolved into joint development of weapons and equipment. "It is a major decision. Russia has made a proposal for extension of the IGC tenure and India will consider it positively and examine it at the earliest," Mr Antony said.

Stating that New Delhi and Moscow had several working groups all these years and there was no coordination, he said the apex body would meet at the earliest in Moscow "well before the visit of the Russian president to India so we can move on all issues very fast."

The 8th IGC here also decided to have joint exercises of the Army, Navy and Air Force on a large scale, not only in numbers but also in content, to further the military cooperation between the two countries.

Both sides also discussed plans for developing a joint fifth generation fighter aircraft and medium transport aircraft, and T-90 tanks technology transfer.



New Pakistan spy chief seen as tough on militants

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan's army chief named a general considered a hawk in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban to head the country's powerful spy agency, asserting his control at a time of U.S. concern that rogue operatives are aiding Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha oversaw military offensives against militants in the lawless border regions with Afghanistan in his most recent job as director general of military operations.

His appointment as head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, the country's main spy agency, was part of a broader shake-up of army top brass announced late Monday by military chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The moves were seen as a bid by the reform-minded general to revive the prestige of Pakistan's armed forces and assert control over the spy agency following the downfall of ex-President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in August.

A month earlier, the Pakistani government reportedly tried to bring the ISI under the control of the civilian Interior Ministry but quickly reversed the decision after military dissent.

Pasha, who commanded U.N. troops in Sierra Leone in 2001-2002 and was appointed by the world body as an adviser on peacekeeping operations last year, replaces Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, a close aide to Musharraf.

Analysts agreed the appointment should unify Pakistan's anti-terrorism fight.

"Now you have a team in place that includes the new ISI chief ... who shares Kayani's view of how to deal with the insurgency in the tribal area and that is to adopt a tough line," said defense analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi.

The spy agency has helped kill or capture several top al-Qaida leaders since 2001, but there are lingering doubts about its loyalty, not least because its agents helped build up the Taliban in the 1990s.

U.S. intelligence agencies suspect rogue elements may still be giving Taliban militants sensitive information to aid in their growing insurgency in Afghanistan, even though officially Pakistan is a U.S. ally in fighting terrorism.

Some analysts say elements in the spy agency may want to retain the Taliban as potential assets against longtime rival India and believe Pakistan's strategic interests are best served if Afghanistan remains a weak state.

India and Afghanistan — and reportedly the U.S. — suspect the ISI of involvement in the July 7 bombing outside India's Embassy in Kabul, which killed more than 60 people. Pakistan denies the allegations.

Urbane and at ease with foreign reporters, Pasha has acknowledged the price Pakistan was paying for its past sponsorship of radical Islam. "We pumped in millions of dollars for establishing it, and now we are up against it," he told a media briefing in November.

Rizvi said Pasha might be able to sway the lower echelons of the intelligence agency away from any sympathy they might feel toward the Taliban and "convince them that this war is Pakistan's war."

In August, Pasha accompanied Kayani to a meeting between top Pakistani military leaders and American commanders, including the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier.

Pasha will be pivotal in joint U.S.-Pakistani efforts to locate al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, believed to be hiding somewhere along the Afghan-Pakistan border in the lawless, tribal areas.

He said in November that it was "anybody's guess" where bin Laden was hiding. "Osama is a mystery," he said.

Pasha was also skeptical about Washington's policies in the war on terror, saying "brute use of force" killed too many civilians and stoked extremism.

Military analyst Ikram Sehgal said Pasha's experience commanding operations in the border region "will act as a force multiplier for the Pakistan military to fight the Taliban."

Asked whether he would likely follow a U.S. line, he said: "Pasha's only leaning is pro-Pakistan. He is neither pro-West, nor anti-West."

The army statement said Taj, the former intelligence chief, would take charge of an army corps in the eastern city of Gujranwala. It listed several other new postings, each of which were expected to take effect in a few weeks.

Pakistan has spent about half of its 61-year history under army rule, but Kayani has indicated he wants to keep the military out of politics and rehabilitate its image after Musharraf's nine-year rule.

Associated Press Writers Munir Ahmad, Stephen Graham, Asif Shahzad and Kathy Gannon contributed to this report.



Gurkhas win right to retire in UK
About 2,000 Gurkhas are affected by the ruling [AFP]

Former Gurkha soldiers from Nepal have won their legal bid to secure the right to retire in Britain.
Dozens of Gurkhas and their supporters celebrated outside the court following the ruling on Tuesday, and waved the regiment's green flag, which bears two kukris, the traditional Nepalese curved knife.
The soldiers had begun a high court challenge earlier this month against a ruling that those retiring before 1997 had no automatic right to live in the UK.
Martin Howe, their lawyer, said: "Today is a wonderful, terrific victory for the Gurkhas of Nepal.
"It is a victory for common sense, it is a victory for fairness."
The Gurkhas gave three cheers for British actress Joanna Lumley, who supported their campaign because her father was a member of the regiment.

'A great wrong'
Lumley said: "This day is more important than I can tell you.
"It gives our country the chance to right a great wrong and to wipe out a national shame."
During the hearing, Edward Fitzgerald, the Gurkhas' barrister, said a decision to bar them because they were based in Hong Kong until the territory was returned to China in 1997, was unfair.
He also rejected government claims that they did not have close links with Britain.
High court judge Mr Justice Blake ruled that instructions given by Britain's interior office to immigration officials were unlawful and must be changed.

Renowned for bravery
After the ruling, Jacqui Smith, Britain's interior minister, said the rules would be rewritten.
Smith said: "In light of the court's ruling we will revise and publish new guidance. We will honour our commitment to the Gurkhas by reviewing all cases by the end of the year."
Britain's ministry of defence made no comment on the ruling.
About 2,000 Gurkhas are affected by the current rules.
All other foreign soldiers in the British Army are allowed to settle in Britain after four years' service anywhere in the world.
Gurkhas were first recruited by colonial rulers in India in the 19th century as a "martial race" known for their bravery.
They have fought for Britain since 1815, most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia.





Pakistan's powerful intel agency gets new chief

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan has named a new chief for its main intelligence service, a change sure to be closely scrutinized by the U.S., which has questioned the spy agency's loyalties in the war on terror.

Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, previously the director general of military operations, was named the new head of Inter-Services Intelligence, according to an army statement late Monday.

The statement listed several other new postings in what appears to be a major shake-up of the military leadership.

In his most recent capacity, Pasha would have overseen Pakistan's military offensives against insurgents in Pakistan's northwest, pockets of which have turned into bases for Taliban and al-Qaida militants involved in attacks on American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Pasha replaces Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, who was in the position about a year after being appointed by former President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf, a former army chief and U.S. ally, was forced to quit the presidency in August amid threats of impeachment by the fledgling civilian government.

Pakistani defense analyst Talat Masood said the changes appeared to be an effort by Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani — who succeeded Musharraf as army chief — to consolidate his control over the military.

Masood described Pasha as "highly professional."

U.S. intelligence agencies suspect rogue elements in the ISI have been giving Taliban militants sensitive information to aid them in their growing insurgency in Afghanistan.

India and Afghanistan also suspect the agency of involvement in the July 7 bombing outside India's Embassy in Kabul that killed more than 60 people. Pakistan denies the allegations.

Pakistani intelligence helped create the Taliban militia, many of whose leaders and recruits studied at religious schools in Pakistan.

Pakistan also was one of the few countries that gave diplomatic recognition to the Taliban's fundamentalist rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Officially, Pakistan allied itself with the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but observers say elements in the ISI may still be aiding Taliban fighters in part to retain them as assets against longtime rival India.

Pakistan has spent about half of its 61-year history under army rule, but Kayani has indicated he wants to keep the military out of politics and rehabilitate its image after Musharraf's nine-year rule.

Still, the army chief has shown an independent streak, and has condemned in harsh terms U.S. crossborder strikes in Pakistan's northwest.

The army statement did not specify who would replace Pasha as director general of military operations. It said Taj has been appointed Corps Commander for Gujranwala.



Lt Gen Nagal is new Strategic Forces commander
30 Sep, 2008, 2227 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: Lieutenant General B S Nagal will be the new Commander of India's Strategic Forces beginning on Wednesday.



Gen Nagal will take over command of the most crucial formation of India's defence forces from Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar, who will take over as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman-based Tri-Services Command, Defence Ministry sources said.

Air Marshal S C Mukul, who was the chief of the IAF's Allahabad-based Central Air Command, has been appointed as the new Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters here, in place of Lt Gen Hardev Singh Lidder, who retired today.

Air Marshal Radhakrishnan will replace Mukul as the new Central Air Commander.

Commanders-in-Chief of Army's South Western Command Lt Gen P K Singh and Central Command Lt Gen H S Panag also retired today, but announcement regarding their successors was yet to be made till late in this evening.

Lt Gen R K Karwal will take over as new Director General of the National Cadet Corps from Lt Gen P S Chaudhary, sources added.



From Today's Papers - 30 Sep


















A Soldier's pride at stake ?
http://beyondroutine.rediffiland.com/blogs/2008/09/29/A-Soldier-s-pride-at-stake.html


A Soldier's pride at stake or is it a country's?


“Take care of your soldier, O' King , the day should never arise when a a soldier has to ask you for the justice. He lays his life on border for the kingdom,so that you me and our people can sleep peacefully.” - said Chanakya to King Chandragupta.

How true!

This was quoted by a participant in a discussion forum conducted by one of the prestigious news channels in the context of ongoing disparity between defence personnel and their civil counterparts.

Without going in to much technicality of the issue, the main point is that, the outcome of the sixth pay commission report suggests that the officers of the defence services will get the pay far less than their civil counterparts of the equivalent ranks, so much so that civil official will fetch more pay than his senior counterpart in the Army, Air force and Navvy.

Now Is this the result of a well thought process by the IAS officers? This question was popped up by retired senior defence officers and the possibility was not denied.

I had earlier also mentioned about the poor living conditions and a very bad pay scale about the defence personnel in one of earlier write-ups. People live in such bad conditions and at times shell out huge amount from their pockets for the rent of the house as the govt is not in condition to provide them the accommodation; then he flies the fighter plane the very next morning to check the safety of the border with no assurance whether he would be back to see the smiling faces of his children and wife.

Officers and men from other branches work day and night to keep the planes, system , machines, equipment and all the time maintained and ready so that the country can sleep in peace. Generally people do not realize it but when a calamity occurs or when a Kargil happens, suddenly Faujis are remembered and are glamorized.

No amount of money can ever replace the life of a warrior, but does the government ever come and find out the conditions in which he lives and still goes to the border to lay his life quietly and bravely. He deserves to live a life with dignity and respect.

Now among his civil contemporaries he is made feel so low, by developing this huge gap in the salary that he would have with them.



Is it because defence officers and men and their families do not constitute a vote bank? Given the fact that are always located else where and no voting by post takes place.

India is not respecting its own defence services, which is supposed to be one of the best militry services in the world.

Officers and men have to cut the corners in their expenditure and are struggling with financial problems , not able to provide their children what they wish to and still live the life with a smile on their face all the time, and immediately pack their bags and move to the toughest of the postings, along with their families. If these people are not kept happy at the home front and if their dignity is not the pride of the nation; this is very unfortunate.

How sad is this situation where a soldier has to rise and ask for what he deserves?

With all this will we have young Indians joining Indian Army, Air Force or Navvy?


Editorial: Extreme step

Business Standard/ New Delhi

September 30, 2008, 0:02 IST

For matters to have reached a stage where the three defence chiefs should collectively decide not to implement a government pay order is surely serious. Fortunately, things got sorted out after Defence Minister A K Antony made it clear to the chiefs that they could not unilaterally decide on whether or not to implement the Cabinet order on the Sixth Pay Commission and that, if need be, his ministry would issue the necessary order. The chiefs over-stepped a line in what they did, and it is not a good precedent to have set. But, equally, it must be asked whether the government drove them to such misdemeanour, and (even more importantly) whether their strong feelings accurately reflect the degree of unhappiness that exists on the issue in the officer corps. At the end of the day, what maintains the relationship between the civilian and the uniformed officer is mutual respect and a feeling that the government is not going to ride roughshod over the defence forces' genuine concerns, merely because civilians have the final say (which of course they do).

The three chiefs had made their views on the Sixth Pay Commission known to the government months ago; some adjustments were indeed made to what the Commission had recommended, but key issues were not addressed (or addressed through rejection). As the chiefs pointed out, and as has been well-known for some time, it was getting more and more difficult to recruit people to the forces — as is evident from the gap between the number of officer cadets recruited this year and the stipulated strength. There is little doubt that the services as a career have to be made more attractive, if the country's defence capability is not to be impaired. Therefore, through a combination of incentives, status recognition and generous hardship allowances, some way should have been found to address the issues raised. It is inexplicable how, despite the strong signals that had been sent, the government chose to notify the Sixth Pay Commission without paying too much attention to whether the forces' genuine grievances had been addressed. Perhaps the all-powerful IAS that runs the government felt that the forces would simply lump it.

The crux of the defence forces' grievances has to do with the manner in which they have been downgraded in relation to the civil services. A lieutenant colonel who drew Rs 800 more than his civilian counterpart now draws Rs 11,000 less. Similarly, other bands have been created which put even higher-level officers at a disadvantage vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts. The forces had been demanding an integrated pay scale till the rank of major general, in order to reduce the feeling of stagnation. This was accepted in the Fourth Pay Commission, removed in the fifth, and has now been restored in the sixth (while introducing a similar facility for other services), but the way in which the scale has been fixed ensures that civilian employees draw higher salaries. The wonder of it all, if you go by the calculations submitted by the defence forces, is that the total cost of what they ask for is under Rs 250 crore. It is obvious that the issue is not the money, but a needless act of oneupmanship by the civil services. The group of ministers that has been constituted will have to make up now for past government insensitivity.



11,000 soldiers needed in Indian Army


THERE IS a shortage of over 11,000 officers in the Indian Army. Lieutenant General Thomas Mathew told the media in a recruitment rally at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on September 26. He expressed satisfaction at the tremendous turnout at the recruitment rally for soldiers.

Explaining the shortage, Major General MN Kashid, additional director general (recruiting) told that the shortfall is in the Short Service Commission grades. “We have a huge demand for captains and majors. The Army has initiated a four pronged approach to fill this gap. A widespread publicity campaign targetted at youth about the life in the Army, is also in process.

The Army is in advanced stages of discussion with the Ministry of Human Resource Development regarding introduction of Army-related lessons in the NCERT curriculum. Inspirational and real life stories will be a part of class VIII to XII books. A touching story of flying officer Anil Kumar of the Indian Air Force and an NDA product, has been included in class X English textbook of the Maharashtra State Board.
Kumar, who was commissioned as a fighter pilot is totally paralysed below neck after a major road traffic accident.

Lieutenant General Thomas Mathew hoped that the Pay Commission review should also attract more young men and women to take up a career in the armed forces. A strategy is also being worked out to enable Short Service Commission officers to integrate into civilian jobs later. He also drew attention to the fool-proof and transparent system being followed at the recruitment rallies where middlemen and touts can not pay any role in this process.

In 2007, the Indian Army recruited about 38,000 soldiers. An open recruitment rally for male candidates from seven south districts of Kerala has been undergoing since September 25 by the Army recruitment office, Trivandrum. Rally is open till October 1. About 2,000 candidates took part in the first day’s selection programme. Good physical characteristics, good education, a strong will and commitment is all that is needed to be a part of the Indian Army.



Uncalled for defiance Admiral Mehta’s conduct inexcusable

THE TRIBUNE has been consistently supporting the demand for a better deal for the armed forces on the issue of implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission report. We not only protested against the stepmotherly treatment meted out to our uniformed personnel, who have done the country proud in protecting the borders or taking care of internal security, we also threw open the columns of this newspaper to ventilate their grievances. Yet, we found ourselves on the side of Defence Minister A.K. Antony when the mild-mannered minister chided the service chiefs for the manner in which they protested about the implementation of the new payscales. The Union Cabinet had decided to implement the new payscales but as a mark of protest, the Services Headquarters had chosen not to send the revised salary bills to the Defence Ministry. Worse, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, went one step further and even sent a communication withholding the issuance of the government draft notification to the staff.

Their conduct, particularly Admiral Mehta’s, was unacceptable and, as Mr Antony is reported to have pointed out, was not expected of them. Any such defiance of the government’s order would have sent the wrong signals down the Services line. The Tribune, too, believes that the services have a case when they insist that there should be parity in payscales, perks and protocol vis-à-vis the civilian bureaucracy. They have an amiable minister in Mr Antony, who has been taking up their case with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. Already, a lot of anomalies in the recommendations have been ironed out. However, it would be an injustice to delay implementation of the new payscales in the name of rectifying other shortcomings. These could have been sorted out by the three service chiefs with the South Block, away from the public gaze.

It was in the light of this urgency that the Cabinet cleared the proposal to implement the revised payscales. Once the service chiefs backed off after listening to the Defence Minister’s strong words of disapproval, the Centre did not take long in appointing a three-member committee headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to look into their grievances. If anything, this shows that there are institutional mechanisms in place to sort out such differences. There was no need for defiance.


India, Russia defence ties enter new phase
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 29
India today reaffirmed its relationship with it oldest defence ally - Russia. The two countries signalled a shift in the earlier “buyer-seller relationship” by announcing: “We will now be partners in jointly developing next generation of weapons, aircraft and hold joint scientific research.”

Besides, the two nations announced plans to increase the frequency and scope of bilateral military exercises, which means involving more men in these exercises and using more equipment. The two countries have also decided to extend the tenure of military cooperation, which was to expire in 2010, for another ten years.

An apex body headed by the defence secretary and his Russian counterpart will now drive the military cooperation for the countries and coordinate various working groups. The first meeting of this body will be held in Moscow before the Russian President arrives for a visit to India in December this year.

Defence minister A.K. Antony and his Russian counterpart AE Serdyukov today jointly signed a protocol at the eighth meeting of the Indo-Russia inter-governmental commission on military technical cooperation.

India and Russia, as partners, will now be co-developing next generation of fighter aircraft and technology will be transferred to India to produce Russian technology-based T-90 tanks. The issue of pricing of the Gorshkov aircraft carrier is also near resolution.

On the T-90 tanks, the Russians had an issue of transfer of technology to build 1000 tanks at a designated factory in India. It had delayed the original schedule that was to start first lot of deliveries last year. But today Antony announced: “We have found a solution, hereafter things will move fast”.

Besides, India will be buying another 347 tanks in a drive-away condition.

On Gorshkov, the Russian side has submitted its additional demand of US dollars 1.2 billion for refitting it. The same will now be presented before the Union cabinet which is expected to approve it. Subsequently, the Russians will be invited for re-negotiating the deal. As an interim measure, India has asked Russia to support the shipyard that is refitting the 44,570, tonne warship. It is learnt that a sum of US dollars 250 million will be spent by Russia on this.

Notably, India badly needs an aircraft carrier as its biggest ship, Virat, is ageing. But with the delay in the refit programme Gorshkov is expected to join the Indian navy only by 2012.

On the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) that the two countries have decided to jointly produce, the Sukhoi and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) teams have held technical discussions and both sides have agreed to finalise the negotiations of the general contract. Separately, The Ilyushin (IL) and HAL will form a joint venture to manufacture 145 multi-role transport aircraft.



Army brass defied Govt on pay hike by citing ‘larger interest of the services’

Shishir Gupta Posted: Sep 30, 2008 at 0254 hrs IST
NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 29 The armed forces have agreed to implement revised pay scales and arrears from October 1 but in a highly controversial move last Friday, the Army top brass, taking a cue from the Navy, cited “the larger interests of the services” to justify their defiance and “delay” in implementing revised salaries.

The Army signal was sent the day Defence Minister A K Antony talked tough with the three Services chiefs and told them in very clear terms to implement the Cabinet decision on the Sixth Pay Commission report.

Top sources confirmed to The Indian Express that via a signal on September 26 — two days after Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta signalled his men — Lt Gen V K Chaturvedi, Director General, Manpower Planning, under the Adjutant General of Army, informed “all ranks up to unit level” that the revised pay scales were delayed. The signal, being kept under wraps, was sent to Headquarters/Commands and Corps of the 1.1 million-strong Army.

While the armed forces process for issuing the Government notification has begun so that all officers and ranks get the new scales together with their civilian counterparts on time, the Army, in its signal, said that four pay-related issues still remain unresolved:

•Uniform grades of pay at par with civilian officers.

•Lt Col should be upgraded to Pay band 4.

•t Generals should be placed in Higher Administrative Grade plus.

•Restoring pensionary benefits of personnel below officer rank.

While the UPA government plans to take up the two signals issued by the Navy chief and Army Headquarters seriously as these have wider ramifications, it is foxed by the first demand which is not even within the purview of the Pranab Mukherjee committee — it also comprises P Chidambaram and Antony — set up by the Prime Minister last Friday to sort out pay-related anomalies with the armed forces.




US was allowed limited actions, reveals Kasuri

Monday, September 29, 2008
ISLAMABAD: Former Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri has disclosed that Pakistan had allowed the United States to conduct limited operations in its territory against al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked militants.

"Pakistan had allowed the US to conduct limited operations," Kasuri told the Geo television. "We could not go to the limits that were demanded by the US," he said. Asked about the ongoing Army operation against the militants, he said Pakistan Army was raised to fight India and it would have to get training for guerrilla warfare. –NNI

Online adds: Kasuri said Pakistan was adhering to nuclear safeguards of international standard for the safety of its nuclear programme. "There are several security wings meant for our nuclear programme. We have nuclear safeguards in accordance with international standards adopted by other nuclear powers," he said.

"Being the foreign minister, I was member of the National Command Authority. President, prime minister, foreign minister, defence minister, chairman joint chiefs of staff and all the three forces’ chiefs are members of the authority. We have remained in contact with the IAEA. Our safeguards are of international standard," he underlined.

The country's nuclear programme was in safe hands, he declared. About US-India civil nuclear technology pact, he said Pakistan was facing some difficulties due to nuclear proliferation charges levelled against Dr A Q Khan. India's civil nuclear technology agreements, however, would pave the way for Pakistan, he said. Two Chinese nuclear reactors were already functioning in Pakistan, he said.

He claimed headway on the Kashmir issue during the rule of the previous government and said that a solution to the Kashmir issue could be found if there was a political will. President Asif Ali Zardari was a political figure; therefore, it would be easy for him to move forward on this count.



Jitters over China's military muscle

Thomas Harding in London
September 30, 2008

CHINA is developing a modern military that will be the equal of Western armies, say defence analysts. A conference in London heard that within the next decade China will possess an army second only to America's, a fact that could "embolden" it to military action.

The analysts, from Jane's Information Group, believe the Communist Party can only continue to rule if it maintains economic growth at more than 10 per cent. Therefore the rapid growth of its navy is matched by its desire to expand into the Indian Ocean and South China Sea to feed resources into its voracious economy.

"China is developing a modern, highly manoeuvrable force able to operate anywhere as well if not better than Western armies," said Christopher Foss, editor of Jane's Armour and Artillery, who added that in the last 10 years China had made "dramatic progress".

During that time China's army has been substantially slimmed down into a leaner fighting force with new tanks and armoured vehicles. But its growing naval might poses the greatest threat.

By 2015, China is expected to have six Jin class submarines capable of firing the JL2 ballistic nuclear missile that could threaten both the west and east coasts of America, acting as deterrent to any intervention by Washington should China begin hostilities against Taiwan.

The conference heard that China's nuclear attack submarine force is expanding "quite considerably". Within the next year the first navy pilots will also begin training for aircraft carrier operations, while new air-to-air refuelling planes are being delivered that will double the range of its air force's increasingly modern fighters.

The editor of Jane's Intelligence Review, Christian Le Miere, said China would have less to fear from America if it had the threat of nuclear weapons off US waters allied to a "very capable military to back up diplomatic moves".

However, he said the Chinese navy was still a considerable distance from its US counterpart, which spends 10 times China's budget building twice the number of vessels.

Telegraph, London

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/09/29/1222650990683.html



India develops unmanned combat vehicle

Production could start in four years' time

By Peter Larsen @ Monday, September 29, 2008 5:58 AM

The Indian Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE ) is reportedly developing a number of unmanned infantry combat vehicles.

According to CVRDE director S Sundaresh, Medak Plant workers are fitting Russian infantry combat vehicles with advanced robotic components at a cost of Rs 60 crore.

"We have undertaken the project last year, and a full-fledged vehicle will be handed over to Army in four years' time. We are planning to hand it over to the Army by 2011 for field tests, after which we will take up full scale production", said Sundaresh.

Sundaresh also noted that the all-terrain vehicles would be utilised to detect mines, as well as nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

As the IT Examiner previously reported, the crowded Indian defence market has led numerous officials to express concern over a perceived lack of indigenous self-reliance. To be sure, air chief marshall F M Major recently recommended that New Delhi reduce its dependency on aerospace imports by embarking on a "strategic shift [that] will offer the required thrust towards building skills and infrastructure for engineering and manufacturing".

Dr W Selvamurthy of the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) expressed similiar sentiments.

"A sustained effort on indigenisation of defence science and technology would ultimately provide us the technological know-how and know-why, and thus in turn result in continuous evolution of product upgrades", he said.




Indian Navy Seeks to Acquire Six More Submarines

Dated 28/9/2008

India has initiated the process of acquiring six more submarines on the lines of the under-construction Scorpenes to augment its underwater warfare capabilities.

"The Navy has initiated the process of acquisition of six more diesel-electric submarines and has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to major manufacturers across the globe," top Defence Ministry sources told reporters today. "The Defence Ministry will now await responses from these companies and will follow it up with global tenders or Request for Proposals (RFP) next year," they said.

In all, Navy plans to procure 30 new submarines to have formidable underwater fighting capabilities. India already has 16 submarines of the Russian Kilo and German HDW Shishumar Class.

Among the countries from where India is seeking information are France, Russia and Italy, all with major submarine manufacturing capabilities. The new submarines would be procured as a follow-on of the six Scorpene submarines being built at the Defence Public Sector Undertaking shipyard, Mazagon Dockyards Limited (MDL), in Mumbai.

"The additional six submarines will start joining the Indian Navy fleet after all the first set of six Scorpenes have joined the naval fleet," the sources said.



Pension disparity

A letter to The Editor, The Tribune Chandigarh of 29SEP.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2008/20080929/letters.htm

Apropos of Ajay Banerjee?s report on the disparity in defence pensions (Sept 25), the Finance Ministry has not at all agreed to the proposals of the defence services and has, in fact, outrightly rejected them. The ball has reached the Prime Minister?s office only because of differences between the Defence and Finance Ministries.

It is also learnt that the officer handling the Pay Commission Cell in the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, is from the Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS), a service which has always traditionally been in a status war with military officers.

Otherwise, why would a Lieutenant Colonel with 13 years of service and with a pre-revised scale of Rs 15,100-18,700 be placed in Pay Band-3 (Rs 15,900-39,100) and a Director to Government of India also with 13 years of service and with an erstwhile scale of Rs 14,300-18,300 placed in Pay Band-4 (Rs 37,400-67,000)?

The Sixth Pay Commission and the subsequent approval by the Union Cabinet was nothing but an exercise to mislead politicians by the babus who have never wasted time in degrading the status of men and women in uniform.

VICTOR CHRISTOPHER, Goa




General students can study medicine with army wards

Delhi HC asks Army College of Medical Sciences to leave 21 out of its 100 seats for students who qualified CET

Rakesh Bhatnagar & Vineeta Pandey. New Delhi

Here is a bit of good news for medical aspirants. Children of civilians can now also study in armed forces medical colleges set up exclusively for the children of army personnel.
The Delhi high court on Friday passed an order asking the Army College of Medical Sciences (ACMS), Delhi Cantonment, to leave 21 out of 100 seats for general category students who qualified the Combined Entrance Test (CET). The CET was conducted by Delhi�s Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University to which ACMS is affiliated.
ACMS is run through army welfare funds and is exclusively for the wards of serving army, ex-army personnel and war widows. There are about 12 professional colleges, including engineering, run by the army. The ACMS is different from the Armed Forces Medical College , Pune, which takes civilians after an all-India entrance examination. Once they complete AFMC, the MBBS students become army doctors. However, ACMS is like any other medical college and the students are under no compulsion to join the army.
The HC observed that many seats in ACMS remained unfilled since very few candidates who were wards of defence personnel had qualified for admission in the institute. On the other hand, a large number of general students had secured higher marks in CET than those who were given admission for being wards of army/ex-army personnel or war widows. The court observed that it was unfair of the ACMS to not open its unfilled seats to general students.
The court did not accept the ACMS�s argument that the institute was set up mainly for the children of army personnel and that being an unaided professional institution it had the right to maintain autonomy in its administration.
�Every such seat is highly precious since a large number of meritorious candidates are desirous of, and waiting to get admission. Each such seat is a national asset and it would not be desirable not to let them same go waste. A seat left unfilled in any academic session remains vacant till the end of the course and the period of the MBBS course is nearly 5 years,� judge Vipil Sanghi said in his order.
He further ordered that reservation of seats for the wards of army/ex-army personnel and war widows in ACMS could be to the extent of 79 out of 100 and the remaining 21% seats should be filled in by general category candidates on the basis of merit.
The institute was asked to issue public notices in dailies asking successful candidates to appear for counselling on Monday (September 29, 2008) and accept fees of general students by September 30, 2008, so that they can join the classes at the earliest.
b_rakesh@dnaindia.net
p_vineeta@dnaindia.net




 

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